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Great State: The Buzz of Oklahoma Beekeepers

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Find the queen.

That's the game state fair visitors play when they stop by two contained bee hives in the Oklahoma Expo Hall.

Volunteer beekeeper Paul Mehagen is glad to help them find them, each marked with a pink spot of paint.

Confidentially, he jokes about liking all the other women in the hive too.

"The women are all the workers," he chuckles. "The males just service the queen."

Paul and his fellow volunteer beekeeper Rick Schantz answer a lot of questions about bees over the fair's full run.

From aggressive Africanized bees coming into the state to mysterious hive disorders and die offs, you'd think there wouldn't be many keepers left.

But Schantz quickly learned that any buzz was good buzz.

"We started a beginner beekeeper class about three years ago because of demand for new beekeepers."

Many of the the Central Oklahoma Beekeepers have their hives right in the urban areas, quietly pollinating flowers and trees.

Mehagen claims they also produce some of the best honey in the region.

He harvested about 60 pounds last year and sold most of it to out of town relatives who developed a taste for Oklahoma honey.

"It has a better flavor than a lot of other states' honey," he insists. "because of our variety of flowers."

The 'queen of honey states' has a nice ring.

Oklahoma honey producers hope news keeps coming, good or bad, and that the sweet stuff keeps flowing.

For more information about bees and beekeeping in Oklahoma visit http://www.okbees.org/coba on the web.